My friend AA and I wanted to visit The University of Oxford in UK, so we booked the Oxford, Stratford & Cotswolds tour from the The English Bus, a recommendation by a friend of hers who had taken one of their tours and immensely enjoyed it.
What makes The English Bus more special than your typical bus tour is that it’s a small group tour. Their buses are really small and can accommodate a maximum of 16 passengers and one driver-slash-tour guide.
I found it to be cozier and more enjoyable than a big bus tour (which I had done around London the first two days before). Our tour guide Andrew was so knowledgeable, humorous, and engaging. He even gave us all the bottled water we needed as well as some tea cakes, gave us sufficient time to go for toilet breaks as well as eat lunch and dinner, and then dropped us off at the most convenient location possible at the end of the tour.
The first official tour stop was Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of the famous playwright William Shakespeare. I was amazed that the house of William’s father – the house where he grew up – had been perfectly preserved and we had a chance to see it in all its glory hundreds of years later.
AA had already tried two Stratford-upon-Avon tours before, and she said those tours only brought them to this house, which has now been turned to a museum. They then went inside to explore said museum, and that was it – end of tour.
On this tour, however, we did not do that. We had the option to do so ourselves over lunch break if we so wanted, but aside from that, our tour guide gave us a walking tour of Stratford-upon-Avon.
So we not only saw Shakespeare’s birthplace, but also his old school, an old pub where he was likely to have drank, the land where he lived in a house that he died in (the house was torn down by a mad priest after he died; they have now built a museum called Shakespeare’s New Place upon the land), the theatre that was named after him – Royal Shakespeare Theatre, and finally, Holy Trinity Church, where he was baptized and eventually buried.
Our second tour stop was The Cotswolds Villages which has some of the best countryside scenery in the whole of England – green fields and hills mixed with wonderful little towns and villages full of classic golden coloured houses and cottages.
One major advantage of being in a small bus is that it is able to drive down the narrow roads to Cotswolds that would not be able to fit a typical big tour tour bus.
We were dropped of at one of the pretty villages for a quick tea break.
Then we drove down more winding roads, with views of rolling green fields with lots and lots of sheep and cows, till we finally reached the beautiful Bibury, home of the Arlington Row – a group of 17th century cottages featured on one of the pages of the UK passport.
The place was so cute, like the stuff of fairytale picture books! 😍
Our last stop was the reason why we nerds booked this tour – but as the cliche goes, it was last but certainly not least! Oxford is a world-leading centre of learning, teaching and research and is the oldest university in the English-speaking world, so it definitely gave us chills to set foot on this place and gaze at all its amazing architecture. We both exclaimed that we wished we could study here! 🤓🤓
Andrew took us on another walking tour of the prestigious place, and we were in awe at all the trivia he spewed forth.
After taking us through some of the sights, he gave us time to ourselves. We spent it walking towards Christ Church, famous for having the great hall after which the Harry Potter films patterned the Hogwarts Great Hall. We didn’t get to see the indoors because it was already closed, but we did get to enjoy the meadow.
Overall, I would say this was a very worthwhile tour to take, and AA said she would be recommending this to all her other tourist friends, rather than the big group Shakespeare tour she had taken before.
Should you want to book this tour, please visit The English Bus website and I suggest you hurry because they have very limited seats per tour. You will definitely enjoy it!
To read about the rest of my travels around Europe, click on this tag.